Campaigners against a new oil well near Puddletown in Dorset are celebrating after the applicant withdrew their application.

The site just north of Athelhampton had been proposed by South Western Energy Ltd for 20 years of oil production, which would have released millions of tonnes of carbon emissions. Objectors raised various issues including failure to go through the right planning application process, the impact on the public right of way to access the site, a poor climate impact assessment and a risk to water quality. The Environment Agency said the risk assessment on the impacts to surface and ground waters wasn’t good enough.

SWEL say they will come back with a new application in light of the current situation on oil and gas supplies.

Vicki Elcoate of Fossil Fuel Free Dorset said: “This application isn’t needed to meet any new demand for oil. There’s no evidence that increasing domestic supply of oil would reduce imports – as most UK onshore oil is exported – and reliance on any supply from this unproven site at some future date wouldn’t add to energy security.

“Instead we need a rapid transition to greater energy efficiency and a switch to renewables to supply our energy. That really would make Dorset resilient in the face of any external threats and we encourage Dorset Council to encourage and invest in a cleaner and more secure energy future”.

The local Puddletown Area Parish Council had objected to the application and over 1,700 people signed a petition organised by the Fossil Fuel Free Dorset calling on Dorset Council to reject the application.  When the application was first made back in 2019 local people came together in the village hall to express their concern and a campaign to stop the application was launched.  Campaign supporters went out doing leafletting and engaged with people in Dorchester by holding stalls in the main street.  Campaign supporter Julie-Ann Booker said “If SWEL do come back with a new proposal we’re ready for a further round in this long running saga which has never even cleared the basic permitting hurdles. It just shows what community opposition can achieve”.

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